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Last updated on Dec 02, 2019

The Best Secured Credit Card

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The best secured credit cards are the ones that help you save money and stay out of debt in order to help improve your credit. They should also feature low rates, low minimum deposits, and manageable annual fees or, even better, no annual fee. All of this combines into a secured credit card that will build your history and help raise your credit score. To help you find the best secured credit cards, we scoured the market and investigated 19 different credit cards and came up with our five top picks.

The 5 Best Secured Credit Cards

    The Best Secured Credit Cards: Summed Up

    First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Capital One® Secured Mastercard® First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Discover it® Secured
    Best for Overall Minimum security deposit Low annual fee Credit monitoring Rewards
    Annual fee $49 $29 $39
    Minimum security deposit $200 $49, $99, or $200 (dependent on creditworthiness) $200 $200 $200
    APR 9.99% variable 26.74% variable 19.99% variable 13.99% variable 24.49% variable
    Credit history required No No No No No

    Best Overall

    Best Secured Credit Card
    First Progress

    First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

    Pros

    Low annual fee

    Cons

    High interest rate
    Not available in all states

    Why we chose it

    Higher credit line opportunity

    The Platinum Prestige offers lots of overhead to expand your credit line. Your credit limit can be as low as $200 and as high as $2,000, depending on what you want to contribute to the refundable security deposit. Over time, your credit can be raised without an additional security deposit — a move that will help you turn around your credit score in short order. The three major credit bureaus take your credit utilization (ratio of your spending to your credit limit) into account when reporting your credit history.

    Low APR

    At 9.99% APR (variable), Platinum Prestige’s interest rate is lower than traditional credit cards — the industry average hovers around 17.20%. We recommend paying your balance in full every month to build your credit score, but a low interest rate means that you won’t be heavily penalized for a late payment.

    Points to consider

    $49 annual fee

    This top-tier secured credit card from First Progress levies a fairly hefty annual fee ($49), and fixed costs like this one are important to consider when shopping around, especially when some of its competitors offer low or no fee options.

    Not available in all states

    Best Minimum Security Deposit

    Best Minimum Security Deposit
    Discover

    Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

    Pros

    2% cash back
    Discover matches your rewards
    No annual fee

    Cons

    High minimum security deposit
    High APR

    Why we chose it

    Potentially low security deposit

    The amount you put down depends on your credit-worthiness, but your security deposit with Capital One could be as low as $49. The other security deposit options are $99 and $200. Our other picks have security deposit minimums of $200, so this card is great if you’re not able to front that much cash at one time.

    Increase your credit line quickly

    After making your first five payments on time, you’re eligible to increase your credit line. Spending the same amount of money each month while your credit line increases (a concept known as credit utilization) benefits your credit score and shows that you are trustworthy in the eyes of lenders.

    No annual fee

    This Capital One card doesn’t come with an annual fee, so that’s more money in your pocket.

    Points to consider

    Security deposit dependent on creditworthiness

    Since the security deposit is determined by your creditworthiness in the eyes of Discover, it could be as high as $200. It is important to weigh this initial investment factor with the card’s potential benefits.

    Best Low Annual Fee

    Best Annual Fee
    First Progress

    First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

    Pros

    Slow and steady approach
    Average interest rate

    Cons

    Moderate features
    Not available in all states

    Why we chose it

    Low annual fee

    The $29 annual fee is one of the lowest you’ll find not only in the First Progress secured credit card line, but across the market as a whole. This is a major draw if your primary concern is not shelling out for more than you have to.

    Points to consider

    High interest rate

    Low annual fees usually come with increased interest rates. The steep 19.99% variable interest rate is on the high end of the spectrum. If you opt for Platinum Elite, avoid carrying a balance on your card from month to month.

    Not available in all states

    Best Credit Monitoring

    Best for Credit Monitoring
    Capital One

    First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

    Pros

    Potentially low security deposit
    Increase your credit line quickly
    No annual fee

    Cons

    Security deposit dependent on creditworthiness

    Why we chose it

    Slow and steady approach

    This secured credit card is best for people who want to take a moderate approach to building credit and not commit to high payments in order to benefit from price cuts elsewhere. It avoids the high annual fee of the Platinum Prestige and the high interest rates of the Platinum Elite.

    Average interest rate

    With a 13.99% APR, this is the middle option between the Platinum Prestige (9.99%) and the Platinum Elite (19.99%).

    Points to consider

    Moderate features

    If you are willing to take on more risk, then the other First Progress cards offer more competitive features. Platinum Prestige comes with super low interest rates with a high annual fee, and the Platinum Elite offers high interest rates with a low annual fee.

    Not available in all states

    Best Rewards

    Best for Rewards
    First Progress

    Discover it® Secured

    Pros

    Higher credit line opportunity
    Low APR

    Cons

    $49 annual fee
    Not available in all states

    Why we chose it

    2% cash back

    Most secured credit cards don’t come with rewards, but the Discover it® Secured card offers a cash-back deal that’s competitive with regular credit cards. You can earn up to 2% cash back when you spend at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter). On all other transactions, you get unlimited 1% cash back.

    Discover matches your rewards

    At the end of your first year, Discover will match all of the cash back you’ve earned, automatically. This is a wonderful bonus that requires no effort on your part.

    No annual fee

    Unlike the secured credit cards offered by First Progress, Discover won’t charge you an annual fee for using their card.

    Points to consider

    High minimum security deposit

    If you are approved for the Discover it® Secured card, you receive a credit line equal to your security deposit. The unfortunate part is that Discover requires a $200 deposit at minimum. If you aren’t able to put up that much money at the start, you may want to consider a card like the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, which will let you put down a security deposit as low as $49 (depending on your creditworthiness).

    High APR

    Although this Discover card doesn’t have an annual fee, it does come with a high interest rate (24.49%) if you make a late payment. However, Discover does generously waive the late fee on your first late payment. The important thing is ensuring that late payments don’t become a habit.

    How We Chose the Best Secured Credit Cards

    We started by looking at the 15 largest credit issuers in the United States, as well as niche lenders who specialize in credit building, to identify all available secured credit cards. We only considered candidates that were FDIC-insured, offered credit lines with room for growth, and had refundable security deposits. We compared credit limits, minimum security deposits, penalty fees, APR interest rates, features, benefits, restrictions, and customer surveys to objectively identify the best five secured credit cards of 2019.

    Secured Credit Cards FAQ

    What is a secured credit card?

    Credit cards operate on trust — the credit card company takes on your debts with the understanding that you will reimburse them when your bill’s due. A secured credit card doesn’t operate on trust alone. As the name suggests, they use security. Like a normal credit card, you charge expenses and pay the total later. But like a debit card, you invest the amount you’re able to pull out. You put down the total cash amount that you will be permitted to charge, giving the credit card company the equivalent of a security deposit. If at the end of your contract, the carpets are clean — you’ve paid all your bills — you get that deposit back.

    “A secured card can be a great tool to build your credit history for the first time or restore your credit history if you’ve had some difficulties,” says Rod Griffin, Experian’s director of consumer education and awareness.

    Can I apply for multiple secured credit cards at once?

    You should avoid applying to multiple cards, if possible. You may be eager to apply for several right out of the gate, but submitting lots of applications will actually hurt your credit score.

    “You don’t want to apply for too much credit all at once,” explains Ted Rossman, an industry analyst at CreditCards.com. “That appears risky to financial institutions and credit bureaus.” Every application authorizes the credit card company to submit a hard inquiry, and that causes your score to temporarily dip. Rather than applying for a whole slew of secured credit cards, track your top priorities to our top suggestions, then apply for one or two cards at most.

    Can you get turned down for a secured credit card?

    Yes, you can be denied for a secured credit card. Generally, secured credit cards are much easier to obtain because they are less riskier and require a refundable security deposit which serves as your credit limit. However, if there is any evidence of insufficient income to meet the lowered standards of a secured credit card (history of bankruptcy or tax liens), then you can be turned down for a secured credit card. Of course, this level of scrutiny varies so if you do get turned down, try applying to a different secured credit card. You can also try getting a co-signer or applying for a credit builder loan.

    How does a secured credit card improve my credit score?

    Payments on your secured credit card, like any other credit card, are reported as part of your credit history, which you can review through the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

    “The two critical factors are that you’re making your payments on time, every single time, and that the balance on that card is kept low,” says Griffin. “Ideally, you should pay the balance in full each month so that your utilization rate is low. That secured card will help you demonstrate that you pay your bills on time and that you don’t overuse that credit availability so you’re a good risk, and that’s what drives credit score.”

    Editorial disclosure: The views and opinions expressed within this page belong solely to Reviews.com and have not been reviewed or approved by any affiliate or bank. The information provided is accurate as of the date of the review.

    About the Authors

    Taylor Moore

    Taylor Moore Finance & Insurance Writer

    Taylor Moore covers banking, investing, auto insurance, life insurance, homeowners insurance, and more as the Finance and Insurance Writer for Reviews.com. Her work has been published in Chicago magazine, Chicago Reader, and The Financial Diet, among other publications. After graduating from the University of Central Florida, she moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she currently lives with her cat.